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William Hague and Angelina Jolie visit Kigali Memorial to honour victims of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide

26 Mar 13 – UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie this morning visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda’s capital to honour the memory of all those murdered in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The Memorial was established in 2004 by the UK-based Aegis Trust for genocide prevention, working in partnership with survivors and the Rwandan authorities. Today it plays a key role in peace-building education, bringing together children of survivors and perpetrators to help strengthen community stability and resilience against the potential for violence in the future. The British Government is looking to support that work, which was profiled in the Guardian last week. Aegis also provides essential support to survivors of the genocide in greatest need; orphans, widows and gang-rape victims among them.

In just a 100 days, from April to July 1994, a million Rwandans were murdered simply because they were identified as ethnically Tutsi. UN peacekeepers were in Rwanda at the start of the genocide, but instead of being reinforced and mandated to stop the killing, much of the force was withdrawn. It has come to be regarded as one of the international community’s worst failures in modern times to protect people at risk of mass atrocities.

Some 250,000 of those killed lie in mass graves at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where William Hague and Angelina Jolie placed wreaths and stood in silent reflection.

They were visiting the Memorial ahead of a journey to the D.R. Congo, where they will highlight the terrible human cost of warzone rape, meeting survivors and calling for Governments worldwide to address this neglected and growing problem.

Before leaving the memorial, Hague and Jolie viewed Aegis’ documentation programme, the Genocide Archive of Rwanda. Its work includes documentation of rape and violence against women. Yves Kamuronsi, Archive Manager, explained how Rwandans and researchers from around the World will use the archive to better understand the causes genocide, using this research and evidence to inform upstream prevention strategies such as community reconciliation processes and social cohesion to promote stability.

William Hague wrote in the Visitor’s Book that this is “a memorial to be understood by the whole World.” Angelina Jolie added that it was “extremely moving, and a powerful memorial.”

“The Aegis Trust was honoured to host Mr Hague and Ms Jolie on their visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial today. Survivors across the country will be encouraged by their commitment to prevent mass atrocities,” says Freddy Mutanguha, Head of Country for Aegis in Rwanda and himself a survivor of the genocide.

“Used as a weapon of genocide in Rwanda, we have observed how trauma and other consequences of rape last for generations,” says Dr James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust. “Rape often occurs in times of conflict; the perpetrators exert domination by targeting women. We applaud William Hague and Angelina Jolie for their efforts to bring renewed international attention and to seek better ways to safeguard women in times of crisis.”

The Aegis Trust aims to prevent genocide worldwide. By joining Aegis, you can help this important work to continue: